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Home > Blog > Upgrading Private Pilot Licence Ppl To Commercial Pilot Licence Cpl

Upgrading Private Pilot Licence (PPL) to Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

Posted 18 May 2022

Upgrading Private Pilot Licence (PPL) to Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

Many private pilots at Sherburn Aero Club, who initially train for a PPL, go on to get more advanced training and opt for commercial licences such as the CPL, which allow them to build a career in aviation and bag their dream job!

If you are a private pilot who has decided that you would like to pursue aviation more seriously and build a career in flying, then you will need a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). A CPL is necessary for a pilot to have a career in aviation. For those who wish to only fly for pleasure, then a general licence such as the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), or even the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) may suffice.

Many pilots who get into the field of aviation in a general capacity wish to upgrade and make a living off of their flying skills as they improve. It should come as good news to those private pilots who wish to earn a CPL that the PPL is very easy to upgrade, given you invest the time and financial resources required to earn the commercial licence.

There are also different types of commercial licences, such as the airline-focused Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) or the Multi-engine Pilot Licence (MPL).

When getting into aviation, it is a good idea to know what your goals are. However, if you were uncertain in the beginning and opted for a general licence, you can rest assured knowing that the pilot licences are easy to upgrade, and you can build upon a pre-existing licence.

Many private pilots at Sherburn Aero Club, who initially train for a PPL, go on to get more advanced training and opt for commercial licences such as the CPL, which allow them to build a career in aviation and bag their dream job!


 The main difference between general aviation licences such as the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL), and commercial licences such as the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and the Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) is that the former does not allow a pilot to fly in exchange for financial compensation.

If a pilot wishes to earn off of their flying skills, a commercial licence is necessary. Compared to the PPL, the CPL has much more stringent requirements, with increased flight hour requirements as well as a more thorough medical examination.

In general, due to the stricter requirements, the CPL is more expensive to obtain and maintain. Regardless, if it is used to earn an income, then the benefits outweigh the costs involved in acquiring a commercial licence.


Upgrading the Private Pilot Licence to the Commercial Pilot Licence is very easy. All you have to do is add to the hours already logged in for the PPL. While the PPL requires 45 hours of training, the CPL requires a total of 200 hours.

You can easily add the time you have flown during training for your PPL, as well as after while flying for pleasure. Flight hours can easily add up, and if you love to fly, logging in some extra hours won’t feel like much of a chore at all.

You will also need to upgrade your Class 2 medical certificate, which is needed for a general licence, to a Class 1 medical certificate. If you wish to fly outside of the UK into the European Union regions, then you will need an EASA-approved Class 1 medical certificate.

Once you have the required documentation and flight hours, you can put in an application with the Civil Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom for a CPL. The CPL allows a pilot to fly light aircraft during the day. If you wish to fly heavy aircraft, as well as take to the skies after dark, you will need additional ratings.



For those starting off in the field of aviation and who have plans to pursue flying in a more serious capacity as a professional pilot, you may want to weigh out your options and see whether it would be best to get a PPL before a CPL or not.

Those who are certain about their career path can start training for the CPL from the get-go. The minimum age to apply for the CPL is 18 years, while the minimum age for the PPL is 17 years. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of getting a PPL before a CPL.



More flexibility

When you start off with a PPL, you will learn that you can pursue aviation along with other things such as school and sports. Commercial Pilot Licence training is usually more focused and relatively more intense, which means long hours of training and more serious instructions.

For the younger pilots who wish to experiment and test whether aviation is the right career for them or not, it is a better idea to get a PPL before a CPL.

Once you have a PPL, you can get a feel for the job and understand the demands of a career in aviation. This can help you decide whether you wish to pursue flying in a more serious capacity.

Relatively relaxed learning environment

Since, when training for a CPL, CFIs assume that you are set on a career in aviation, the learning environment is not as relaxed. When training for a PPL, the focus is on making aviation more pleasurable while maintaining safety.

When it comes to CPL training, there is more competition involved since the trainees are preparing to enter the job market. This can lead to a lot of stress for the trainee pilot, causing them to turn away from aviation.

If an aspiring pilot is allowed to fall in love with aviation in a more friendly environment, they are far more likely to pursue it as a full-time career since they understand the true pleasure of flying.

Less initial financial investment

Initially, there is far less financial investment required when it comes to acquiring the PPL, so it does not cause a strain on the wallets of young people just starting out.

Since fewer hours of training are required, a trainee can save money when it comes to hiring aircraft and fuel. They can also save money when it comes to pilot medicals since the Class 2 certificate is less expensive to obtain due to its relatively less stringent nature.

Early start

The age requirement for PPL holders is no less than 17 years old, with a pilot starting training around the age of 16. Compared to this, the minimum age limit for a CPL applicant is 18 years of age. This means aspiring pilots can get a head start by going for the PPL or LAPL initially and then graduating to the CPL.

 Training for the CPL and PPL both happens on the same kind of light aircraft, such as those that are part of Sherburn’s fleet. Due to this, the PPL holder is getting exposure to the same aircraft as those training for a CPL.


Possible drawbacks


Takes more time

The biggest drawback of getting your PPL before your CPL is the fact that it takes far more time for you to start working as a professional pilot. There isn’t the same level of focus involved, and obtaining a PPL before a CPL may lead to the pilot becoming lazy about their goals.

This will in turn cause the road to a career in aviation to become longer. Also, since the CPL has stricter requirements, it is a good idea to find out whether you qualify early on or not. Otherwise, if you find out you are ineligible for a Class 1 medical certificate, you may be in for some disappointment much later in your aviation journey.

Greater financial investment in the long run

While the initial cost of obtaining the PPL is lower, you will find that upgrading to the CPL also rakes in a significant cost. This, coupled with the money you’ve already spent on obtaining the PPL, may add up and feel like too much of a burden.

If you start directly with the CPL, you won’t have to spend the extra money getting a Class 2 medical certificate first or training as a private pilot. You can go in with a lot more focus and end up saving money in the long run because you are clear about your goals.

Since you will be able to obtain your CPL faster as well, you will start earning earlier than those who apply for a PPL and then graduate to CPL later on. There is no one clear answer to whether it is better to get a PPL first or not. The situation varies on a case-by-case basis, and while diving straight into CPL training may work for some people, for others the path going through the PPL first is more suitable.

It is best to weigh out the pros and cons on your own in order to figure out which is the best route for you, keeping in mind your financial resources, age, schedule, as well as long term goals.



In order to obtain a PPL, you must log in a total of 45 hours of flight time. Out of these 45 hours, 10 hours must be of solo flight. 5 hours out of ten must be dedicated to a cross country flight totalling at least 270km.

The PPL is an internationally recognised licence, and you can easily fly to and from the EU region after upgrading it to a part-FCL PPL. For those who wish to fly within the UK, you can apply for the LAPL, which is only valid for flying light aircraft within the UK’s borders. This licence requires 12 hours of training.

In order to qualify for the PPL, the applicant must have a valid Class 2 medical certificate, which is used to certify whether the pilot is of sound mind and good physical health to take to the skies without becoming a danger to themselves or those on the ground.

You will also need to clear nine theoretical subject exams with a minimum of 75% marks for subjects including meteorology, navigation, air law, and principles of flight.


In order to qualify for a CPL, the applicant must show a total of 200 hours of flight time. Out of these 200 hours, half must be of dedicated solo flight, while the other half can be completed via dual instruction with the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).

A solo flight totalling 300 nautical miles is also necessary, as well as a Class medical certificate that is issued after a thorough medical exam by a licenced professional.

The theoretical exams that the applicant must pass with a minimum score of 75% include  Air law, Aircraft general knowledge - airframe/systems/powerplant, Aircraft general knowledge - instrumentation, Mass and Balance, Performance, Flight planning and monitoring, Human performance, Meteorology, General navigation, Radio navigation, Operational procedures, Principles of flight, Visual flight rules (VFR) communications.



You can start your training at a flight school such as the one housed by Sherburn Aero Club, which provides private pilot training on its fleet of well-maintained aircraft. Sherburn also houses a licenced medical examiner so that you can get your medical clearance with ease.

For those who are interested in more advanced training, such as that required by commercial pilots, Sherburn’s partner organisation Advanced Flight Training offers courses in CPL training, Multi-engine Piston Rating, as well as Night Rating for the pilots who wish to fly heavier aircraft and take to the sky after dark.

For those who wish to train on and fly microlights, Sherburn also houses a dedicated microlight training facility called Breeze Aviation.


 Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. We cater to brand new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.

We offer dedicated CPL training as well as comprehensive PPL (A) training and the required experience for operating aircraft at night.

With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we also offer a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.

Sherburn also offers pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward. For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran.

The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation for the long run.

In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on private pilot licences (PPL), commercial pilot licences (CPL), and how you can upgrade from PPL to CPL.


Photo by Billy Huynh on Unsplash 



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